There are seventy-four left.
Classroom hours that is.
In just a couple of weeks I’ll be saying good-bye to another group of fourth graders. Yes, I’ve been counting down the days … since the third week of school. Somehow calculating the hours way back in August seemed too formidable. But now? Well, an hourly count feels doable … like, I’m going to make it.
And tonight while sitting around the dinner table with my family, the weightiness of that number struck me deeply in my core. Seventy-four more hours …
To give them my best.
To say my good-bye and to make sure that I say it well.
And here’s the rub in all of that loving, investing, giving, and saying:
I’m not sure I remember much about my 4th grade year. I don’t recall it being particularly impactful for me. Or so it seems. And I wonder to myself what they, my now fourteen students, will one day recall about their fourth grade year.
Gosh, I hope they’ll say it was fun. We sure have packed a lot of laughter into the year. I hope they’ll retain some practical knowledge as it pertains to their book learning. Maybe they’ll read with their children about Old Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows, laugh about Melba Jane’s hair turning blue in Love, Ruby Lavender, or eat some Turkish Delight like Edmund did in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe . Perhaps they’ll pull out a charm-filled, tarnished-with-years necklace from a keepsake box and remember the laps they had to walk to get those charms.
But even if they don’t remember the laughter, the stories, fractions and nouns, or even if the necklaces never make it through this summer, there is one thing I pray they’ll never forget…
The truth – the gospel of Jesus Christ. Truly, that alone is what pulls at my heart in these final hours of this fourth grade year.
And this is where I must have faith in both the seed that’s been planted and in the Sower who authored it. God’s Word is stronger, more enduring than my efforts at the loving, the investing, the giving, and the saying. Long before I planted any heaven-sent seeds within my students’ hearts, God tended to the soil therein. He plowed up their fields, readying it to receive his eternal impartations. He will continue to tend the garden going forward. Like the Apostle Paul, I can (with all certainty) say,
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. -1 Cor. 3:6-7
I am nothing but a conduit of the Father’s amazing grace. And truly, friends, in that state of nothingness, I hold everything.
This is how I will spend the final seventy-four hours with my students. This is how I will love, invest, and give my best. This is how I will say my good-bye. Not only am I going to make it, friends, but I am going to make sure it counts for all eternity. As always…
Peace for the journey,